About the evCloud
The evCloud is a system designed to collect usage data from the growing network of public Electric Vehicle charging stations in BC, helping us to understand how this infrastructure is being used and how best to support increased EV adoption in the future.
The evCloud accesses this data by leveraging the built in energy metering and communications capabilities of charging equipment installed across the Province under a number of Plug in BC initiatives, including the Community Charging Infrastructure (CCI) Fund and BC Hydro’s DC Fast Charging infrastructure deployment. With a broad variety of charge station hosts and locations, the evCloud will provide valuable insights into when and how different stations are being used, helping to inform future infrastructure deployment and helping utilities to understand the related impacts and opportunities for the electrical grid. To assist in these efforts, a consortium of academic researchers from the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology will use the evCloud to support a number of related research initiatives in the field of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
The evCloud is part of the BC EV Smart Infrastructure Project, a project led by BC Hydro and funded by Natural Resources Canada and the Province of BC. The EVSI Project is supporting the deployment of Level 2 and DC fast charging infrastructure across BC, as well as a number of Smart Grid initiatives, of which the evCloud is just the first step. While the evCloud will help us consolidate valuable real world data from a variety of sources, the EVSI Project is also exploring a number of opportunities for further integration of electric vehicles into the emerging Smart Grid. With the type of harmonized connectivity that’s demonstrated by the evCloud, electric vehicles can play an active role in the Smart Grid, minimizing their impact on the grid, and potentially even helping to optimize utility operations and reduce costs for all electricity consumers.
For any questions or comments about the evCloud, Contact us at: evCloud@powertechlabs.com
For more information about electric vehicles and EV infrastructure initiatives in BC, visit www.pluginbc.ca
Plug in BC is an initiative that has been laying the groundwork for the new generation of plug-in electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure since 2007. It is a broad collaboration involving the provincial government, BC Hydro, Powertech Labs, Fraser Basin Council, academic institutions, and over 180 communities and businesses across B.C.
The evCloud team:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is a certain station not shown on the map?
The evCloud is connected to hundreds of the public charging stations in BC, but not all of them. The evCloud relies on the capabilities of charging stations to collect charging data and communicate over the internet. While some standardization efforts are underway, not all charging stations speak the same language. The evCloud therefore includes translation layers for some of the most common charging networks in BC, and consolidates all of this data into a standardized format.
If you’re the owner of a charging station in BC and would like to add it to the evCloud, let us know by writing to evCloud@powertechlabs.com.
If you’d like to see a map of all CCI Fund charging stations, go to www.pluginbc.ca.
If you’re simply interested in seeing a map of all the places you can charge an EV, whether in BC or beyond, see a Canadian-developed international map of charging stations at www.evchargehub.com, or download the mobile app at the appropriate link below:
Why are some stations used more than others?
This is an excellent question and it’s exactly the kind of learning the evCloud is intended to support. Early data suggests that the busiest locations in early 2014 were used upwards of 20 times per week, whereas some other locations saw much less traffic. Some of this variation might be due to geographic location – charging stations in densely populated areas may see more frequent use than stations that are in less urban parts of the province with fewer electric vehicles, for example. But a charging station’s value in supporting the adoption of electric vehicles goes far beyond how often it’s been used up to today. A station that may see little use now could end up being the deciding factor for someone in that area considering a switch to an electric vehicle, giving them the confidence that they can charge not only at their home, but also while at work or on the go.
Given the large potential environmental and economic benefits of a transition to electric transportation, charging stations are being deployed somewhat in advance of the vehicles, providing the critical infrastructure that will enable consumers to become a part of this transition. As sales of electric vehicles continue to accelerate, all charging stations will see higher utilization (something that’s already very obvious on the evCloud home page!) and the data we’re collecting along the way will help to inform future decisions.
How have you estimated fuel and carbon dioxide savings?
While the evCloud can tell us how much electricity has been delivered by participating charging stations, some basic assumptions are required in order to estimate the environmental benefits of providing charging services. First, we assume that every kilometer driven by an EV replaces a kilometer driven by a gas-powered vehicle. Secondly, we look to fuel economy ratings and real world data to see how the electricity consumption of typical EVs compares to the fuel consumption of similarly sized gas-powered vehicles. These comparisons suggest that 1kWh of electricity is enough to drive an EV as far as a similar vehicle would travel on about 0.4L of gasoline.
To calculate carbon dioxide savings, we look at the amount of CO2 produced by burning gasoline and by generating electricity. For gasoline, 2.4kg of CO2 are released for every litre of fuel. In BC, our electricity is mostly produced by hydroelectric dams with very little CO2 emissions, to the point that the amount of CO2 produced by driving an EV becomes a rounding error when comparing to a gas-powered vehicle (not to mention that the production and distribution of gasoline also releases additional CO2!)
These estimates only take into account the charging done at public charging stations that are connected to the evCloud, while most often, plug-in vehicle owners charge their cars from the convenience of their home overnight. Perhaps the greatest contribution of these public charging stations is in enabling people to switch to a plug-in vehicle with the confidence they can charge not only at home, but also at work or on the go. These public stations are in effect unlocking many more environmental and economic benefits than those that are tracked by the evCloud.
What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh) and how is it different from a kilowatt (kW)?
A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy, similar to calories or kilojoules, but much more commonly used when discussing electrical energy. It should be familiar to anyone who’s ever paid an electric utility bill!
A kilowatt (kW), on the other hand, is a measure of power, meaning the rate at which energy is consumed or delivered. One kW is equal to 1000 watts, or the amount of power consumed by 10 old-fashioned 100-watt light bulbs. If those 10 light bulbs were to be left on for 24 hours (1kW x 24h), they would consume 24kWh worth of energy, or about the same amount of energy required to fully charge the battery in some of the most common EVs (those that can travel about 100-140km on a charge).
Residential utility customers typically pay for their electricity based on how many kWh’s they consume during a billing period. Larger utility customers (eg the host of a DC Fast Charge station) also pay a fee that depends on the peak power level (in kW) that they reach in a given billing period.
Using another analogy, the litres of gas in your car’s tank are like the kilowatt-hours of energy stored in an EV battery, while the horsepower of your engine is like the kilowatt power rating of the electric motor that drives your EV.
How much does it cost to charge an EV?
In a residential context, fully charging an EV with a typical 120km range costs on the order of $2 or less in BC, significantly less than the cost of driving a gas-powered vehicle the same distance.
Compared to charging in a residential context, public charging stations have additional installation and operating costs, and some station hosts may seek to recover some of these costs by requesting EV drivers to pay a fee. Other station hosts may decide to absorb these costs and offer free charging, perhaps on the grounds that EV drivers can bring revenue into their region or business. Data collected through the evCloud should help build more of an understanding around the costs and potential business models to support EV charging services. For more information on usage fees for DC Fast Charge stations, please see www.pluginbc.ca.
Why can I only see data for some charging stations?
While every station shown on the evCloud map is transmitting data, station hosts are given the option of either sharing some overall statistics and information about their station with the general public, or restricting access to only registered evCloud users who are involved in the project’s research initiatives.
“Fob fatigue” - why do I need a different card or key fob to access each type of station
Some charging stations require activation with a key fob or access card before charging can begin (although most can also turn on after a quick call to a phone number posted on the device). This is to provide access control options (such as a usage fee) to station owners and in some cases to help prevent vandalism. Not all stations can use the same fob, so as a result, EV drivers find they may need to carry a number of fobs with them in order to access the most common stations in their area.
While the evCloud does not play a role in the payment or authentication actions required to access charging stations, it does serve as an example of the type of harmonization that can be achieved between multiple charge station vendors. Some steps have been made in the industry to allow harmonized payment systems, and some vendors have established agreements that allow them to “share” customers, similar to how we use ATM cards. The DC Fast Charge stations deployed by BC Hydro are one example of a harmonized payment system – charging stations from multiple vendors can be accessed from a single account.
Does the evCloud collect or store any personal data about EV drivers?
No, the evCloud does not have access to any data related to the EV drivers. The evCloud can only access information about when a specific station was used and how much energy it delivered, not about who was using it.
This station's charging data doesn't make sense - what's wrong?
We want to make sure that the data collected and displayed by the evCloud is accurate, so if you notice anything questionable, don't hesitate to contact us at evCloud@powertechlabs.com. As the evCloud relies on data provided by charge station network providers, in some cases, it may be necessary for station owners to verify charge station installation and configuration with their supplier.
Will new stations be added to the evCloud automatically?
Depending on the type of charging station, certain steps may be required to add it to the evCloud. Please contact us at evCloud@powertechlabs.com for more information if you are the owner of a charging station and would like to see it included.